Whilna, shown at left, poses before the 2013 plane pull with the event planning team

Volunteer gives plane pull wings in Calgary

Whilna, shown at left, poses before the 2013 plane pull with the event planning team

Whilna, shown at left, poses with the Plane Pull planning team.

When Whilna took over as the United Way campaign coordinator at UPS Canada, they had been a United Way partner for over 30 years. Employee participation was strong, and under her leadership, UPS again met their fundraising goals. While everyone was pleased, Whilna felt they could do more.

“We’re a large workforce and we should be making a bigger impact,” she says. She sought an idea that would increase donations, engage more than just UPS employees and raise awareness on a broader scale. Inspiration came from an old video of an airplane pull in Hamilton, where teams competed to pull a giant airplane across a set distance in the fastest time.

Whilna did her research, making dozens of calls to learn about similar events. Once her idea was developed, she approached United Way.

When donations surpassed $30,000 in the first year, she was ecstatic. “It solidified for me that doing this event was the right thing and it made all the work and effort worth it.”

2013 marked the second plane pull event. Whilna reached out to her colleagues, inviting them to volunteer or participate on one of the UPS pulling teams. 30 additional workplace teams competed, raising over $100,000 for United Way. Approximately 2,000 people attended the event to pull the plane or cheer on colleagues and family.

“It made me feel almost full to bursting,” Whilna says. She is already planning to bring the event to greater heights in 2014.

You can read more stories like Whilna’s in our 2013 online Annual Report. Registration will open for the 2014 Plane Pull event in mid-April.